Liberals say they won't push for election

Fri Jan 8, 2010 3:42pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Liberal Party signaled on Friday it would not try to topple the minority Conservative government, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unpopular decision to have Parliament suspended until early March.

"You can't have an election each and every time you have difficulty in Parliament," Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said as he slammed Harper's decision to delay Parliament's return from the Christmas break to March 3 from January 25.

The opposition parties tried to bring the government down in October, just a year after the last election, but this provoked a backlash from voters that set the Liberals back in opinion polls. Ignatieff says he got the message.

"Canadians want Parliament to work -- as they clearly stated to me in the fall, 'We don't want an election,' and I listened to that," he said.

Because they hold only a minority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives need the support of at least one opposition party to remain in power.

The Liberals are still several points behind the Conservatives in public opinion polls, but the gap has narrowed in the wake of Harper's decision to suspend Parliament.

The suspension, known as prorogation, is constitutionally allowed and has been done more than 100 times in Canadian history, but this time it has drawn fierce criticism from the opposition and from editorialists.

A Facebook group "Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament" has drawn more than 100,000 members, and demonstrations are planned for January 23.   Continued...